Sunday, February 10, 2013

Wolverines, and a bonehead play

Yours truly is certainly no expert on wolverines. The only place I've seen the critters was in a zoo. Yet, I'm pretty sure I know a couple things about them. Pound for pound, they might very well be the most fearsome creatures on the planet. Tangling with a wolverine in the wild is a bad, repeat BAD, idea. Lore has it that people have turned loose a pack of hounds to chase one down and, by the end of the day, when that varmint occasionally turned to fight, those same people were left with a trail littered with dead dogs. Wolverines are only about 3 feet long, 18 inches high, and normally weigh in around 40-50 pounds. Besides smaller prey like squirrels, rabbits, and porcupines (anything that can chomp down on a porcupine has got my respect), wolverines have been known to take down deer, elk, and moose for food. They won't even back down from a hungry bear feeding on a carcass, even though the bear might weigh 10 times what they do. With their teeth, claws, and blazing speed, wolverines are ferocious animals indeed. One would certainly never expect such an animal to put his/her head in the sand when the going got tough.

But that seems to be exactly what the University of Michigan men's basketball team just did against the Wisconsin Badgers. Now don't get me wrong. Badgers are pretty rough characters themselves in the wild, but in a cage match with a wolverine, I suspect a badger would be tapping out in a hurry. But despite the Wolverines supposedly being the superior animals, the Wisconsin basketball Badgers refused to do that. They kept hanging around and wouldn't let the game get away from them.

In the waning moments, it looked as if Michigan had finally prevailed. Sharp-shooting Tim Hardaway drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put the Wolverines ahead by 3 with only two and a half seconds remaining. The Badgers would need to in-bounds the ball, bring it up court, and hope for a miracle shot of their own to merely tie it. All Michigan had to do was foul the Badger player with the ball, without letting him get off a shot. Let the guy have his two free throws. Even if he makes them both, Michigan still wins by 1 point. Game over.

But unlike a real wolverine, Michigan put it's head in the sand. They let a Badger player dribble to about half-court and get off a shot as regulation time expired. Sure, the odds of that shot going in are maybe 10 to 1 against -- but it did. Overtime ensued and the Badgers eventually prevailed. It never should have came to that. It was a bonehead play by Michigan. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

After yet another shake-up at the top of the men's college basketball rankings, with the likes of Indiana, Florida, and Kansas going down, the Wolverines were primed to become #1 again. All they had to do was act like the animals they're named after. Be tenacious and fight to the end. Like Yogi said, it ain't over til it's over.

So now Michigan will fall back a few spots, and they're looking at visiting their arch-rival Michigan State in a few days.

No, I never saw a for-real Spartan in the wild, or even at a zoo. Not sure, but history seems to suggest they disappeared a couple thousand years ago. I dunno. That's all Greek to me.

Nevertheless, yours truly strongly suspects MSU head coach Tom Izzo will have his modern day version of the Spartans ready to fight tooth and nail to the end with those feisty members of the weasel family that will come-a-calling shortly. The Sparties are always a formidable opponent as well, and it ain't exactly the Peloponnesian Wars, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit to see them send the Wolverines back to Ann Arbor licking their wounds to regroup.

It should be quite a game.

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